Prospect of Whitby
57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, London, Tower Hamlets
It is no wonder that this famous London pub should at one time have been called the ‘Devil’s Tavern’. Opened in 1520, from a timber framed country house, it appealed to all classes of society. They ranged from cutthroats, outlaws, highwaymen and prostitutes to a higher class of person, aristocrat, judges and politicians. Samuel Pepys stayed here on many occasions when he was Secretary to the Admiralty of Charles 2nd. Its name was the Prospect of Whitby from an old coal hauler anchored in the River Thames. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many people made a living from dredging the drowned bodies from that river, with selling them to medical schools. Judge Jeffreys, the ‘Hanging Judge’, was a frequent visitor. It was captured here disguised as a coal heaver. At the rear of the pub, with suspended over the river is a macabre reminder of the summary justice of yesteryear, a hangman’s noose. The Prospect exhibits ghostly manifestations. these include the ghosts of some of those deprived bodies brought ashore from the river, with Moll Cutpurse. Now she was a girl and a half. ‘Moll’, apart from being an alternative for Mary, was a widespread name for a young woman of disreputable character. ‘Cutpurse’ denoted her reputation as a thief who cut purses from men’s belts to steal the contents. The other name by which she locals knew it , ‘The Roaring Girl’, was self-adopted from ‘roaring boys’. These ‘Roaring Boys’ were aristocratic young gentlemen, who caroused in taverns, with picked brawls on the street for entertainment. Born in 1580, she appears in doublet, breeches and smoking a pipe.